“H” is for happiness!

The “Hour of Code” is an initiative to get all sorts of kids and adults to devote an hour during the 2013 Computer Science Education Week (CSEd), promoted by the Computer Science Teachers’ Association (CSTA), especially to draw attention to getting the activity to happen in the daily routine of school work. Lots of different groups have signed up to participate. There are hundreds of challenge activities which have been designed for every age group and for all sorts of contexts, in school and outside of the school setting.


This example is based on the Khan Academy activity at

This was my first use of the Kahn Academy site. The Kahn Academy activity was well done, with lots of popup support from an animated character named Hopper which is similar to the infamous “Clipper” help system of Windows. Hopper worked, especially in this context. The site does NOT require login or an account to use the coding tool. There is nothing to download. You are free to play.

Are you planning to participate?

Screencapture of my Kahn challenge. Yes, I know that the expected result is just the basic large “H” outlines, but what’s the point of stopping when the urge to extend washes over? If you choose to complete the activity for the badge, you will want to set up an account and go through the steps without doing extensions. You are not limited to the planned activity, but the system is set up to get a particular result in order for you to earn official recognition.


The MassCUE conference is tomorrow, Wednesday, and Thursday at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. You do not have to be a fan of the Patriots to get in, but it doesn’t hurt, of course.

I will be working the MassCUE information desk during the event. Drop by to say hello.


If you are near Boston, Saturday the 21st of September is Software Freedom Day, and there will be a gathering of interested people at Cambridge College in Cambridge, just across the Charles River. I’m planning to go and enjoy the talks and hope to connect with many people I know as well as meet others I have not met before. Hope you can make it.

More information:

If you don’t live near Boston, look around. There’s probably a gathering planned near you. If you don’t see something, call up a few friends and stage an event yourself.

More information:

It is CSWeek.

It is Ada Lovelace’s birthday.

If you are a high school computer science teacher, consider your role. Participate in this survey to get your voice heard.

Of course, if you don’t teach coding, pass the link along.

Remember to sign up for the next round of the Mechanical MOOC Gentle Introduction to Python, especially if you are a 21st century educator.

Speaking of anniversaries:
This blog has been active (or perhaps ‘semi-active’) for five years.

The Oxford Dictionaries US has chosen GIF as word of the year 2012.


Now if only people would pronounce it consistently.

I prefer the soft “g” like George. So did the format’s creator.

Added note: The selection process told using GIF animations.

Last Saturday at Northeast LinuxFest, a GNU/Linux gathering, yours truly spent the day promoting KDE and its community of fine people.

This weekend, I’m going to just be a happy participant at LibrePlanet at UMass Boston.

Maybe I’ll see you there.


Kids are creative. Just watch them when they’re given the freedom to do so.

Help give a group of kids the chance to become more than consumers on their technology.

KDE is participating in the Google Code-In this year from November 21, 2011 to January 16, 2012. Kids from 13 to 18 can participate as coders, videographers, documentation writers and more.

Please pass the word along to teachers who might care and, of course, parents and the kids themselves.

Get more information starting here:

KDE is a group of enthusiastic free software (free as in freedom) people. This is an opportunity for kids to get a mentored experience being a creative contributor to a real software project.

Will a kid you know be contributing to the next generation of software, or will you just encourage them to consume the next game that comes out?

LibreOffice is about a year old.
OpenOffice is now an Apache Incubator project instead of being ruled by Sun or Oracle.

No immediate meeting of the minds appears probable between The Document Foundation and Apache.

Update: Glyn Moody has made a very important observation. LibreOffice and OpenOffice (along with KOffice and Calligra, among others) center on the Open Document Format, expanding choice around a common file standard.

Quick Poll: (Please provide as many responses as appropriate. If you wish, specify the office suite in the “other” blank.)

Please use a comment to the post for other statements of concern or lack of concern.

KDE is 15 today. 

Linux was 20 this summer.

It is a good day in a good year.

Hope your FOSS treats you as well as it has treated me.

[Cake remixed from: ]

This has been a busy week.

The icon of modern, hip technology, Steve Jobs is gone. He will be missed. The tech world will change because he will no longer deliver new “insanely great”cool toys.

Dennis Ritchie, co-creator of both the C programming language and of Unix while working at Bell Labs, also died. He will be missed, but his work which he taught others to use will have long effect in the tech world, perhaps longer than the Apple phenomenon. Linux is mostly written in C and is a functional homage to Unix.

The Ubuntu family of distributions, with its many alternate flavors like Kubuntu, Xubuntu, etc. released its October version 11.10, right on time. I just did my backup and will run the updater after I finish this blog post.

KDE, the desktop originally described as the “kewl desktop environment” is having a birthday on Thursday October 14, 2011. KDE is my personal choice for desktop. I run it in the Kubuntu distribution. KDE is a friendly, interactive community, too. That’s not uncommon in the Free Software world, but KDE seems to do it particularly well for a complex group of programmers, designers, documentation writers and happy users.

I think I’m the only KDE user in my town so a big party is out, but I plan to celebrate with a raised glass and a piece of cake.



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